Tain, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland

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Parish # 82

This is a guide to the history and major genealogical records of Scotland as they pertain to the parish of Tain. To learn more about how to use these records to search for your ancestors, go to the Scotland: Research Strategies.

History[edit | edit source]

TAIN, a royal burgh, the county-town, and a parish, in the county of Ross and Cromarty, 30½ miles (N. by E.) from Inverness, and 201 (N. by W.) from Edinburgh; containing the village of Inver. This place, the name of which is of uncertain derivation, appears to have attained a considerable degree of importance at a very early period; and the ancient town, according to an old document preserved among the records of the Northern Institution at Inverness, was first erected into a burgh by charter of Malcolm Canmore. The parish is bounded on the north, and partly on the east, by Dornoch Frith. The old church of St. Duthus, founded by Thomas, Bishop of Ross, and made collegiate for a provost and eleven prebendaries, at length became dilapidated; and in 1815, the present church was built, at the eastern extremity of the town, and nearly in the centre of the parish. This is a neat structure containing 1200 sittings. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship.[1]

The Gaelic names of the burgh and parish are Baile-Dhuich, or Duthus’ town, and Sgire-Duich, or Duthus’ parish; so called from the patron saint. The origin, however, of the more ancient and now more general name of Tain, (or, according to the oldest orthography, Thayne), has long puzzled local etymologists.

The burgh of Tain serves as a market-town, not only for this parish, but for the whole surrounding district, and for a considerable part of Sutherland.

Tain appears to have been, in ancient times, a place of considerable importance. From a well-authenticated document, it is found that the Burgh dates its constitution from the latter half of the eleventh century, having been originally privileged by Malcolm Canmore, a king celebrated as the successor Macbeth, and son of the murdered Duncan. The oldest existing charter of the burgh of Tain is one granted by James VI, in 1587 followed by another in 1612. A third was afterwards issued by Charles II.

There are twelve landowners possessing property in the parish. They are, Hugh Rose Ross of Cromarty; R B Aeneas Macleod of Cadboll; Hon. Mrs Hay Mackenzie of Cromarty, patroness of the parish, the duchess Countess of Sutherland; Sir Charles Ross of Balnagown; George Mackenzie Ross of Aldie; Hugh Ross of Knockbreck; Fitzgerald Murray of Pitculzean; Daniel Ross of Hartfield; Donald Kennedy of Bogbain; Malcolm Fraser of North Glastullich, and George Ross of Moorfarm. Only Malcolm Fraser and George Ross are permanent residents.

The population in 1755 was 1870 persons, and in 1831, there were 3078 inhabitants.

From the charter of Charles II, it appears that Tain was formerly a collegiate charge, though this would appear not to have continued beyond the times of Episcopacy.

The new church was built in 1815, and is situated at the eastern extremity of the town, pretty near the center of the parish. It is designed to accommodate 1200. In St. Duthus’ church, all the sittings were free; in this church none are free. All the families in the parish, with the exception of 3 or 4, attend the Established Church.

There are no trustworthy parochial registers now in existence of a date beyond 1765; at which period it is recorded that general discontent had been raised by the total want of any registration for nine years before; since that time they have been tolerably well kept, except that there are no records of deaths. The burgh records commence in 1734.

This account was written August 1837.

Source: New Statistical Account of Scotland for Tain, FHL book 941 B4sa, series 2, vol. 14.

The New Statistical Account of Scotland (pub. 1834-45) offers uniquely rich and detailed parish reports for the whole of Scotland, covering a vast range of topics including history, agriculture, education, trades, religion and social customs. The reports, written by the parish ministers, are available online at http://edina.ac.uk/stat-acc-scot/.  Click on ‘Browse scanned pages’ then search the parish you are interested in. Also available at the Family History Library.

Census Records[edit | edit source]

A census is a count and description of the population, taken by the government, arranged by locality and by household. Read more about census records.

Here is a list of the Family History Library microfilm numbers for the census records of Tain as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

Years     FHL Film Number Surname Indexes
1841 1042628 6037266 (6 fiche)
1851 1042059  941.16/T1 X22m copy 2
1861 0103907 none
1871 0104093 none
1881 0203413 6086658 (4 fiche)
1891 0208628 none

The 1901 census of Scotland is indexed on www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk. To use it, you must register and pay a small access fee. All available censuses, 1841-1901, are indexed on this website. It may be easier for you to pay to use the website rather than access the separate indexes through the library.

Church Records[edit | edit source]

The Established Church of Scotland was Presbyterian. Read more about church records.

Here are the pre-1855 records that exist for this parish.

Established Church—Old Parochial Registers[edit | edit source]

Record Type    Years Covered FHL Film Numbers
Birth: 1719-1727, 1767-1854 0990659 item 1
Marriage: 1808-1854 0990659 item 1
Death: No entries none
Condition of Original Registers—[edit | edit source]

Index: For an index to these records, see Scotland’s People website, a pay-for-view website. The Scottish Church Records Index is also still available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  Some records may also be indexed in other FamilySearch collections for Scotland.
No birth entries January 1727–February 1767.
Source: Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970. British Book 941 K23b.

Established Church—Kirk Session Records[edit | edit source]

The Kirk session was the court of the parish. The session was made up of the minister and the land owners and business men of the parish, chosen to serve on the session. The Kirk session dealt with moral issues, minor criminal cases, matters of the poor and education, matters of discipline, and the general concerns of the parish. Kirk session records may also mention births, marriages, and deaths.

Here is a list of the surviving Kirk session records for this parish:

Minutes 1701, 1743–1828, 1867–1943
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/349.

Nonconformist Church Records[edit | edit source]

A nonconformist church is any church that is not the Established church. Read more about nonconformity in Scotland in the article on the Scotland Church Records Union List.  Here are the known nonconformist churches that existed in Tain prior to 1855.

Tain United Associate Church[edit | edit source]

Previous to the year 1834, a Dissenter was looked upon by the inhabitants of Tain much in the same light as an Infidel or Papist. In August of that year an application was made to the Rev. Mr. Munro of Chapelhill, in the parish of Nigg, to come to Tain and baptize a child, which request was accepted. So far as is known, sermons had only been preached twice before by Secession ministers in that place, and intimation that a sermon would be given produced considerable excitement. In the spring of 1836 petition was made to the United Associate Presbytery for a mission station. A place of worship was built in 1836.
Source: Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Film #477618. More details may be given in the source, including ministers.

The extent of records is unknown.

Tain Free Church[edit | edit source]

The minister of the parish, with his congregation and practically the entire population, adhered to the Free Church at the Disruption in 1843. A few years later a church of the Disruption type was erected accommodating 1500. This church, which was always full, served its purpose until 1891 when its place was taken by a new building.
Membership: 1885, 1100; 1900, 286.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Film #918572. More details may be given in the source, including ministers.

Minutes 1843–1906
Deacons’ Court Minutes 1843–1899
Baptismal Register 1843–1866
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/748.

Tain Free Church is held in Highland Council Archives, Inverness (Reference CH3/748)

Minutes 1843–1906
Deacons’ Court Minutes 1843–1899

Deacons’ Court Minutes (scroll) 1887–1891
Baptismal Register 1843–1866, 1873-1911

Communion Roll 1856-1865

Communion Roll 1881-1903

Scottish Reformation Society Subscription Book 1892-1936

The Highland Family History Society has publications for sale and they have Tain Free Church Baptisms 1843-1866 available.

The Family History Library has this publication available

Civil Registration Records[edit | edit source]

Government or civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths (also called statutory records) began on January 1, 1855 in Scotland. Each parish has a registrar's office and large cities have several. The records are created by the registrars and copies are sent to the General Register Office in Edinburgh. Annual indexes are then created for the records for the whole country.

See the article on Scotland Civil Registration for more information and to access the records.

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Tain was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Ross until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Ross and Cromarty. Probate records for 1513- 1901 are indexed online at www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk. You must register on the website but use of the index to probate records, called 'Wills Testaments,' is free. You may then purchase a copy of the document or, if the document is before 1823, it will be on microfilm at the Family History Library. To find the microfilm numbers, search in the library catalog  for the 'Place-names' of Ross and Cromarty and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Ross.

The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Ross and Cromarty. Look in the library catalog  for the 'Place-names' of Ross and Cromarty and the subjects of 'Probate Records' and 'Probate Records - Indexes.'

Read more about Scotland Probate Records.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 499-514. Adapted. Date accessed: 1 August 2014.

Return to Ross and Cromarty parish list.